Phd Program

The doctoral program is jointly run by the Political Science Department, International Relations Department and Public Policy. Go directly to website: Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations 

How to apply for PhD click here
Doctoral Scholarships


The structure of the PhD program in Political Science is based on a system of ‘tracks’ (areas of specialization, or ‘majors’). The tracks represent academic fields/sub-fields or research areas that reflect the major strengths and interests of our faculty. The five tracks are:

PhD Candidacy

The Doctoral Program in Political Science is structured around the following stages:
- Completion of coursework;
- Successful completion of the comprehensive examination;
- Successful defense of the dissertation.

The Probationary Period is between the date of enrolment and the successful passing of the Comprehensive Examination. Probationary Doctoral Candidates become Doctoral Candidates after, first, passing the comprehensive examination and, second, successfully defending the Prospectus.
Studies during PhD candidacy are based on individual research guided and monitored by the candidate's supervisory panel. CEU encourages its Doctoral Candidates to spend at least three months at another university during the research period for their dissertation. Doctoral Candidates are eligible for financial support to conduct off-campus research related to the topic of their dissertation in conformity with the general rules of research support as regulated by the university.
The doctoral dissertation must be submitted for evaluation and public defense no later than five years after the doctoral student passed the comprehensive exam.

Degree Requirements

The overall minimum number of credits that Probationary Doctoral Candidates must earn over the course of their first two academic years is 24. The minimum number of credits they must earn in the first academic year is 18.
The mandatory credits include:
- 14 credits in the students’ major track. Out of these 14 credits, 12 credits belong to the core curriculum. The 2 additional credits of the track fall in the category ‘Advanced Topics’ and change in content from year to year. These credits can be taken either in the first or the second academic year.
- 6 credits from the methods sequence. Given the importance of a sound methodological education, all Probationary Doctoral Candidates are required to take the 4-credit ‘Methods and Research Design’ course in the fall semester and a 2-credit ‘Prospectus Seminar Workshop’ in the Winter Semester of the first year.
- 4 credits from courses taken from a track different from the students’ first choice, which may count toward a minor field. Students may postpone such courses to the second academic year. Students can choose as their elective courses any course offered in any track. The PhD Program also supports the cross-listing of relevant PhD courses taught in units outside the School, as well as the cross-listing of all PhD courses with relevant disciplinary aspects and orientations from the School to other units.

Optional Credits
The student may take optional courses in the second year. If the student collects at least 8 credits from a track other than her/his own, he or she becomes entitled to a ‘minor’.
Students must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.33 in the courses taken for credit.
Course requirements, including the type of the final requirement, are specified in the course syllabi. Exams are written exams in order to avoid bias and uncertainty in judgment.

At the end of the probationary period doctoral candidates are required to take a comprehensive examination.The comprehensive examination comprises the exam and the prospectus defense. Probationary doctoral candidates have to earn a "B+" course grade average and a "B+" grade or higher on their comprehensive examination. Admission to the program as a probationary candidate is no guarantee that the student advances to doctoral candidate status. Those students who complete the coursework with a "B+" or higher GPA and a "B+" or higher grade on their comprehensive examination but cannot successfully defend their dissertation are still eligible to receive an MPhil in Political Science degree from CEU.


The first year starts with personal consultations between the Probationary Doctoral Candidates and their personal Advisors as well as the Director of the PhD Program, with whom they must discuss their study plan for the first year. By the beginning of the second year Doctoral Candidates are required to nominate three members for their Doctoral Supervisory Committee, and to name one as their primary supervisor.
When selecting members of their Doctoral Supervisory Committee, Doctoral Candidates are also expected to submit their study plan for the next two years. The study plan has to be approved by the Doctoral Supervisory Committee and the Director of the PhD Program. Supervisors are expected to follow closely the progress of the students and to have regular contacts with them.

To find out more about the expected learning outcomes of our PhD program click here.